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Detention of children and young people in Ireland


If you live in Ireland and are between the ages of 12 and 21, there are a number of different types of institutions to which you may be sent by the courts.

A number of factors are taken into account including your age at the time of the court appearance, your character, the nature of the offence and the availability of a suitable place.

Major reforms to the detention of children and young persons are currently underway. There is information on the regulation of detention introduced by the Children Act 2001 in our document on children and the criminal justice system.

Section 35 of the Prisons Act 2007 came into effect in May 2007 and provides for the making of prison rules. Prison rules set out the the various conditions in prisons in Ireland and include all aspects of admission, registration, accommodation, visiting rights, health, discipline, education, etc. The prison rules (SI No. 252/2007) came into effect in October 2007. The new Act extends the range of matters covered by prison rules. The following information sets out the rules regarding the detention of children and young people in Ireland.


The institutions in which a child or young person may be detained include the following:


People aged 18 years or over may be sent to prison.

Children detention schools

Former Industrial Schools and Reformatory Schools are now called children detention schools and are managed by the Irish Youth Justice Service which is part of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. There are 3 children detention schools which are considered suitable to detain remanded and committed children. They are:

  • Oberstown Boys School
  • Oberstown Girls School
  • Trinity House School

Only boys under age 16 and girls under age 18 at the time of being remanded or committed by the courts can be remanded in child detention schools.

Places of Detention

Places of detention are for offenders between the ages of 16 and 21 years of age who are sent there instead of prison. The main place of detention has been St. Patrick's Institution, which was formally known as Borstal and took male offenders between the ages of 16 and 21 years.

A new national children detention facility for children under the age of 18 is beeing developed at Oberstown. Since May 2012 all newly remanded or sentenced 16-year olds are detained in Oberstown. All 17-year-olds in St. Patrick’s Institution will transfer to Oberstown in 2014

Page updated: 12 December 2012



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